February 10, 2006

The Ouroboros

Let’s get a little a metaphysical, shall we? Sit down. Turn on some soothing music and consider your life in cycles, as I do.

However, let’s not consider the traditional 365 day calendar. Everyone’s cycles are different. Instead let’s think of phases in our lives where there are uncanny similarities, both good and, unfortunately, bad. Consider loves found and lost, consider heartbreak. Consider happiness. Think of periods of mental success, personal deadlines met, periods of inactivity. Line up those similarities. Try to find moments in your life where the spiritual world has had great impact on your physical existence.

Now let’s move away from the world of spirit and take our journey into the physical plane, the world of man. Those aching feet from standing in line at the grocery store. The physical pleasures of carnal contact. The city smells and sounds. The harsh rumbling of the subway or the soft caress of a feather pillow or a lover’s furry chest. Consider your material belongings, keep sakes and such. Things you’ve lost or found. Again make general dates and look for periods where the material world’s impact on the spiritual world are profound and obvious.

Both of these worlds, while vastly different and separate, are connected via the great serpent, the ouroboros.

The ouroboros has several meanings interwoven into it and appears in forms across every major Earth religion. Foremost is the early Alchemical symbolism of the serpent biting, devouring, eating its own tail. This symbolizes the cyclic Nature of the Universe, creation out of destruction, Life out of Death, the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy. The snake is often symbolized with a black half representing the Material world (the Night, Earth, and the destructive force of nature, yin) and the Spiritual world (the Day, Heaven, the generative, creative force, yang). Typically the ouroborous devours itself at the nadir of the cycle, in the most powerful point of the Material plane.

I picked up a book at Strand recently regarding Buddhism. I won’t speak of my internal discoveries beyond this: the practice of repetition. Much like the ouroborous, eating itself through eternity, (the constant cycles of our lives), and repetition plays a contemplative and important role in both our physical and material lives, both halves of the whole cycle.

For instance, make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Now, make fifty. Make one hundred. With each slice of bread contemplate the imperfections of the toasted edges. How creamy is the peanut butter with each spread. See how the jelly delicately forms to the peanut butter. The repetitions of the material world, the tasks our physical bodies undertake, are part of the cyclic nature of the universe. Through such Material repetition we come closer to Spritual enlightenment. Now someone come help me eat these damn PB&J’s!

I’ve come to the close of a full cycle in my own life. The realization of it came to me this morning as I walked through my old (and new) neighborhood in Clinton Hill. For the first time since moving, a wave of nostalgia washed over me, good (I remembered the initial excitement I felt being alone in New York for the first time) and bad (my terrible mugging – actual physical mugging, not my typical grandstanding). I sat on the train and didn’t read. I simply sat and contemplated these memories. Here I am, very much in love, very much happy; very much safe. Periods of destruction are behind me and a creative apex is ahead. This is the same euphoria I felt upon moving here four years ago.

In the physical plane I’m home in the exact neighborhood that fate wove into my tapestry years ago, gratefully bound with friends and family and infused with optimism ready to effuse from every pore. Both of my halves feel in balance. And goodness, don’t get me started about how I love balance. Too late. I will discuss Libra just a tiny bit, because it neatly ties up my thoughts on the form of the ourorborous.

Libra’s symbol is the Egyptian sigil of the setting sun. The setting sun was chosen as the scales are a tool of judgment of the past. The setting sun often denotes death and a passage from the material world into the world of the spiritual.

Side note: When the Egyptian dead stood before Ma’at, goddess of Justice, Truth and Order, they had to weigh their heart (the spiritual) against the weight of a feather (the material) or risk it being eaten by Ammut, the Devourer of the Dead, who was part crocodile, lion and hippo. So Ammut isn’t quite a snake devouring itself, but from dragons to alligators to snakes, world mythologies include a variety of reptilian beasts devouring aspects of Material, Spiritual or both planes.

Damn Gayest Neil, I had three cycles since I started reading this! I know. I know! So in summary, imagine the setting sun falling into the horizon over a lake. The sun is casting a reflection on the water creating a perfect circle. The upper half is the Sky, the mental, the creative. The lower half is the Earth, the material, the destructive.

Everyone has a place along the wheel. Where are you?

2 comments:

Stefanie said...

I hear you and am feelin' ya. Right on. But you know what is threatening to fuck up the natual flow of things coming full circle? MySpace, man. I like your natual approach much better.

PopMuse said...

shit, got link from foxy's post, read it... amazed. and pb&j's spiritual significance is seriously in the air, check out PopMuse today. symbiotic.